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Second Hendersonville Whistleblower Lawsuit

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Second Hendersonville Whistleblower Lawsuit

Stacy Case
Hendersonville

    Only on Fox, a former Hendersonville worker talks with Fox 17 News about what he describes as wrongful termination.
   His is the second whistleblower lawsuit in just four months against the city of Hendersonville.
     Like the other whistleblower, he claims the public works boss retaliated against him because he raised safety concerns.
    With his wife by his side, Robert Cox talks about how he loved working at Hendersonville public works  and how he wasn't afraid to speak up about safety issues affecting the public.
   Cox says when he tried to report safety violations, his superior accused him of having a bad attitude.
    That superior, his whistleblower lawsuit says,  was hired because of her "intimate relationship" with the boss,  public works director Jerry Horton.
   Cox explains, "Unsafe situations especially  when she's operating the equipment. She has no experience. I actually trained her on several pieces of equipment. She actually pointed at one and said, 'What's that?'  I said that's a track hoe." 

   The lawsuit says the woman admitted the boss, her boyfriend,  "assisted her" in completing the job application and instructed another supervisor to "alter her  scores on an interview survey."
    Cox says, "He had her scoring changed so she could get the job."

   The more Cox reported safety issues, the more she allegedly complained to Horton and the more retaliation Cox says he got from Horton, like when Cox kept reminding the woman to latch this big clamp on public works trailers. 
     Cox gives this example, "She would all the time forget to couple that. If you hit a bump it pops off,  goes away,  hits a car, hits a person,  runs into a house. More than a couple of times I went behind her to put that latch down."

   Cox's attorney also represents Loren Perdue, who's simultaneously suing the city saying he was fired for reporting bald tires and other safety hazards.
    Attorney Roland Mumford says a second whistleblower lawsuit involving safety violations establishes a pattern in the Hendersonville Public Works Department.
     Cox tried to file a grievance, but says Horton threatened to fire him if he did.  His wife Kathryn Cox says he had nowhere to turn; "That was in the meeting with the HR director. Who else do you go to? The mayor? His friend?  You put the grievance back in your pocket."

  The city of Hendersonville declined comment on this second lawsuit.

This is the latest turmoil to hit the Hendersonville Public Works Department.
  City Alderman Mark Skidmore who chairs the public works committee is investigating two firings, three demotions, two suspensions, one forced resignation and another voluntary resignation all in the last nine  months.
    No trial date is set for Cox's wrongful termination suit.
   Loren Perdue's trial is set for September.